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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Best Headphone/Computer DAC and Amp? AUNE T1 Mk2 vs Maverick DA1 Plus

    I'm a relatively new audio enthusiast, and new to this forum. I'm on a limited budget, and I'm looking to upgrade the sound out of my PC, especially when using my new PSB M4U2 headphones. When I use my PSBs with my Elite receiver and SACD source, they sound fantastic, but on my PC (running an integrated motherboard sound card) it sounds like crap. So I went looking for a new DAC and headphone amp, and I came across the AUNE T1 Mk2 and the Maverick DA1 Plus. Both are in my price range (~$200), and both are tube DACs (which I've always wanted to experiment with). Both DAC/amps are well reviewed, both have similar specs and similar price points. Can anyone help me decide which is better for driving my PSBs (with and without the internal headphone amp). I've also got some nice harmon/kardon amplified PC speakers, so I'd like to have the tube DAC pre-amp out to run these when not using the headphones. I'd prefer a rich warm sound, which I'm hoping the tubes can provide. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    one thing you must always remember with audio, the source, the source, the source. You describe how nice these headphones sound when being used with a nice AVR and SACD transport. And now you are looking to spend money on the tail end of the audio sound chain hoping it will transform the sound.

    (1) The first part to look at should be your audio source, which I am guessing is ripped music. So what format are you using and if it is Mp3 at what bit rate?

    (2) A quality sound card is just as impotant as a quality Amp/Dac, Look at picking up used Turtle beach sound card or one of the SoundBlaster Audigy/X-fi cards

    (3) Once you address 1 and 2 then do some testing and see if you need a Dac or just an Amp to boost the sound for the headphones.
    HT
    Pioneer EliteVSX-32
    Pioneer Elite N50
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    Pioneer Cassette CTM66R
    Pioneer Elite BDP 80FD

    Vizio VF550M 1080p
    Panamax 5300 EX

  3. #3
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    You are absolutely right. I have a fair amount of typical iTunes (44.1KHz, 256kb/s), and I also ripped a lot of my own CD's using 320kbps. I wish I could add a turtle beach card, that would be my preferred method. But I've got a mini-ITX case with only 1 PCIE that's dedicated to my video card. I'm not looking into upgrading to a regular ATX anytime soon, so that's why I started looking external for a new DAC.

    BTW, saw your equipment listing - I used to have the Elite DV47Ai coupled with the 49TXi receiver over firewire. Best sounding receiver/source combo I ever had. I'm running a 62FD with an SC-37 and it's just not the same...but I wanted HDMI and firewire lost (unfortunately).

  4. #4
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    With those limitation on your Comp, I would view what your trying to do as wasteful spending. A better Dac or amp will never be able to over come the lack of weak audio chipset that come on many M/B.

    I picked up the 47 after I gave my old 45A to one of my sons. I don't use it much as I am not a big SACD listener. I have ripped all of my audio and use a Squeezebox system, I have 6 squeezebox units in my home ranging from a couple of SB3, duet, two touchs and a Transporter. Most of my files are ripped in Mp3 @320bps or Flac.

    Too bad you didn't keep that 49TXi around, that was a beast of a unit and would be a great 2ch Amp ( a bit over kill) but how do you put a price on great sound.
    HT
    Pioneer EliteVSX-32
    Pioneer Elite N50
    Pioneer EliteDV47Ai
    Pioneer Cassette CTM66R
    Pioneer Elite BDP 80FD

    Vizio VF550M 1080p
    Panamax 5300 EX

  5. #5
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    I guess I was thinking that the DAC would also do the sound processing, but I guess that's still on-board to the motherboard. Since I'm not ready to pull the plug on a new system, and I'd like to get some improvement, then perhaps an external USB sound card, like the Sound blaster X-Fi HD would help? That way I'll bypass all the motherboard audio processing and at least achieve some marginal improvement.

  6. #6
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    If you go with an external USB DAC you completely bypass anything and everything to do with the onboard sound chip. The DAC does all the processing. If you want to experiment without spending a bundle give the Behringer UCA202/222 a try. For the $30 cost you're not out much if you decide to go another direction. Yes, I have a UCA222.

    I've been using the USB input on my Emotiva XDA-2 mostly because it does up to 24/192. The Behringer maxes out at 16/48

    I do not recommend any Creative Labs SoundBlaster cards internal or external for audiophile use. The have bloated drivers use too many system resources and automatically (defeatable) resample everything to 48KHz regardless of the original sampling rate. FWIW: I have a SB X-Fi Pro.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Sorry for the late reply. I have a Tube Magic D-1 with an op amp and tube upgrade with a pair of PSB B6 speakers. Its a good combo. The usb section in the D1 is just ok but the D-1 Plus has an upgraded usb section and is supposed to be much better from the reviews that I have read. The Tube Magic does give a nice tube sound depending upon the tube that is used. For the money it is worth it.

    I also own a Grant Fideltiy DAC-11 which is a little better than the D-1 in terms of build quality and sound.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  8. #8
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Would you be interested in exchanging links?

  9. #9
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    I can't make any first hand comments regarding tube DACs, but my $0.02 on the rest...

    1) External DAC will bypass any need for upstream processing (soundcard), as mentioned above

    2) Very few (any?) options for external DAC that handle SACD exist since nothing that plays a SACD disk is made to output the digital stream.

    3) I'm willing to bet that your PC "sounds like crap" primarily due to lack of enough amplification to drive the headphones (but, sure, the processing may also contribute). A DAC/AMP made a huge difference for my computer-based listening. I attribute it 90% to the better amplification.

    4) Resolution thresholds are much debated, but if most of your music is in 256kbs rips I'd say you may be hurting yourself already (aside from the amplification issue above). At 320kbps, I confess to not hearing a difference as compared to lossless. But, I don't see much point to 320 as the files sizes are not really that much smaller than lossless (2-3 fold?). At 256kbps I can convince myself there are differences sometimes. At 192kbps, no question, sound is inferior to lossless under good listening conditions.

    [for technical point of clarification CDs push data at 1411kbps which is simply the sampling frequency (44.1kHz) times the bits per sample (2 channels X 16 bit audio = 32 bits). Lossless compression results in data transfer bit rates ranging from ~800kbps to 1100kbps for 44.1kHz/16bit audio. Values at 320kbps and below represent lossy compression as compared to lossless rates.]

    So... My advice would be
    PRAGMATIC: 1) amplification, 2) lossless, 3) DAC.
    FUN: 1) DAC/AMP, 2) lossless
    ECONOMICAL: Headphone AMP

    I'm a fan of head-fi for getting the lay of the land.

    DACs - Head-Fi.org Community
    Desktop Amps - Head-Fi.org Community
    Amp/DACs - Head-Fi.org Community

    If I were handed the money, I'd get this
    Maverick Audio - TubeMagic D2 DAC

    As it is, I still have two older DACs and the serve me very well
    Zhaolu 2.6D
    Musiland MD10

    Good luck!
    TCA ATT GGA

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